VISIT OUR INTERACTIVE TIMELINE
A BRIEF LOOK AT SOME OF CAT ISLAND’S HISTORY
Cat Island is a barrier island located approximately 8-10 miles from the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The island is a unique “T” shape created by colliding Gulf of Mexico currents and has sand beaches backed by forests of pine and live oak. Bayous and marshes on Cat are home to alligators, many kinds of birds, and of course, raccoons!
The Island was explored and charted by the Spanish in the 16th century. The French arrived in the area in 1699, and later, in the 18th century, the island was held intermittently by either the Spanish, the British, or the French. In 1810, the area was joined to the Union as part of the Republic of West Florida and later, in 1817, the state of Mississippi.
The British occupied Ship and Cat Islands in 1814, en route to New Orleans and stopped there taking a Cat Island resident captive.
The island gained a reputation for harboring smugglers and pirates from the early 1800s through the 1920s.
The island saw the construction and destruction of several lighthouses.
<INSERT PHOTOS> Cat Island Lighthouse, Est. 1848
ACTIVITY DURING WW2 –
From 1942-43, the U.S. Army Quartermaster’s Corps selected and trained approximately 400 dogs from across the United States to become sentry, mine scout or messenger dogs for use in tropical combat areas in the Pacific. The Cat Island War Dog Reception and Training Center included officer’s quarters, barracks, a mess hall, dog kennels, a veterinarian hospital and a barbershop. During that time, a secret mission to train dogs to locate and attack enemy Japanese soldiers was also conducted on the island. Twenty five Niesei soldiers, second generation Japanese American soldiers from Hawaii, were stationed on Ship Island and transported by boat to Cat Island . The men were employed because they were believed to have a distinctly Japanese odor. They were to act as “bait” for the dogs in training. The experiment failed and was closed down in 5 months. An intelligence investigation followed.
Traces of the camp’s buildings, equipment and roads can still be seen and explored….
For one Neisei soldier”s account check this out…. Nisei Story Website
PRIVATE OWNERS OF CAT ISLAND
The history of Cat Island is rich in tawdry accusations and quarrels of who in fact has land rights. (*Visit the interactive timeline for more info)
Today – Most of Cat is either federally protected or privately owned, and the habitat is fragile, so — tread lightly, leave no trace as you explore and enjoy Cat Island.